Our Churches and Chapels
by Atticus
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7
Home - Random Browse

The first priest at St. Joseph's was the Rev. R. Taylor; then came the Rev. R. Kennedy; next the Rev. W. H. Bradshaw, who was succeeded by the Revs. J. Walmsley and J. Parkinson—the priests now at the place. Father Walmsley, the superior, who originally came from Brindle, is a placid, studious-looking, even-tempered gentleman. He is slender, but wirey; is inclined to be tall, and has got on some distance with the work. He is thoughtful, but there is much sly humour in him; he is cautious but free when aired a little. He knows more than many would give him credit for; whilst naturally reticent and cool he is by no means dull; he is shrewd and far-seeing but calm and unassuming; and though evenly balanced in disposition be would manifest a crushing temper if roughly pulled by the ears. His first mission was at the Church of the English Martyrs in this town; then he went to Wigan, and after staying there for a time he landed at St. Joseph's. Father Parkinson is a native of the Fylde, and he has got much of the warm healthy blood of that district in his veins. He has a smart, gentlemanly figure; has a sharp, beaming, rubicund face; has buoyant spirits, and likes a good stiff tale; is full of life, and has an eye in his head as sharp as a hawk's; has a hot temper—a rather dignified irascible disposition; believes in sarcasm, in keen cutting hits; can scold beautifully; knows what he is about; has a "young-man-from-the-country-but-you-don't-get-over- me" look; is a hard worker, a careful thinker, and considers that this world as well as the next ought to be enjoyed. He began his clerical career at Lancaster in 1864; attended the asylum whilst at that town; afterwards had charge of a workhouse at Liverpool; is now Catholic chaplain of Preston House of Correction, and fills up his spare time by labouring in St. Joseph's district. Either the House of Correction or the poor mission he is stationed at agrees with him, for he has a sparkling countenance, and seems to be thriving at a genial pace. Both Father Walmsley and Father Parkinson have been in Spain; they were, in fact, educated there. Both labour hard and mutually; consoling each other in hours of trial, tickling one another in moments of ecstacy, and making matters generally agreeable. The schools attached to St. Joseph's are in a good condition. They are well attended, are a great boon to the district, and reflect credit upon those who conduct them. All the district wants is a new church, and when one gets built we shall all be better off, for a brighter day with full work and full wages will then have dawned.


Not very far from the mark shall we be in saying that if this Church were a little nearer it would not be quite so far off, and that if it could be approached more easily people would not have so much difficulty in getting to it. "A right fair mark," as Benvolio hath it, "is soonest hit;" but you can't hit St. Mark's very well, because it is a long way out of ordinary sight, is covered up in a far-away region, stands upon a hill but hides itself, and until very recently has entailed, in its approach, an expedition, on one side, up a breath-exhausting hill, and on the other through a world of puddle, relieved by sundry ominous holes calculated to appal the timid and confound the brave. We made two efforts to reach this Church from the eastern side; once in the night time, during which, and particularly when within 100 yards of the building, we had to beat about mystically between Scylla and Charybdis, and once at day time, when the utmost care was necessary in order to avoid a mild mishap amid deep side crevices, cart ruts two feet deep, lime heaps, and cellar excavations. We shall long remember the time when, after our first visit, we left the Church, All the night had we been in a sadly-sweet frame of mind, listening to prayers and music, and drinking in the best parts of a rather dull sermon; but directly after we left a disheartening struggle amid mud ensued, and all our devotional sentiment was taken right out of us. An old man, following us, who had been manifesting much facial seriousness in the Church, stepped calmly, but without knowing it, into a pile of soft lime, and the moment he got ankle deep his virtue disappeared amid a radiation of heavy English, which consigned the whole road to perdition. For several months this identical road spoiled the effect of numerous Sunday evening sermons; but, it is now in a fair state of order. St. Mark's Church, is situated on the north-western side of the town, between Wellington-terrace and the Preston and Wyre Railway, and was opened on the 22nd of September, 1863. For some time previously religious services were held on Sundays in Wellfield-road school, which then belonged Christ Church, but the district being large and of an increasing disposition, a new church was decided upon. The late Rev. T. Clark, incumbent at that time of Christ Church, promoted its erection very considerably; and when the building was opened those worshipping in Wellfield-road school (which was afterwards handed over for educational purposes to St. Mark's) went to it. St. Mark's cost about 7,000 pounds—without the steeple, which is now being erected, and will, it is expected, be finished about the beginning of March next. It will be a considerable architectural relief to the building, and will be some guide to strangers and outer barbarians who may want to patronise it either for business purposes or piety. The late J. Bairstow, Esq., left 1,000 pounds towards the steeple, which will cost about 1,250 pounds. In the district there are upwards of 6,000 persons, and not many of them are much better than they ought to be.

St. Mark's is built in the cruciform style, is mildly elaborate, and moderately serene in outline; but there is nothing very remarkable about any part of it. Rails run round it, and on the roof there are eight boxed-up, angular-headed projections which may mean something, but from which we have been unable to extract any special consolation. At each end of the church there are doors; those at the back being small and plain, those in front being also diminutive but larger. The principal entrance possesses some good points, but it lacks capaciousness and clearness—has a covered-up, hotel doorway aspect which we don't relish. It seems also to be very inconveniently situated: the bulk of those attending the church come in the opposite direction, and, therefore, if opposed to back door business, which is rather suspicious at a church, have to make a long round-about march, wasting their precious time and strength considerably in getting to the front. The church, which is fashioned externally of stone, has a brick interior.

A feeling of snugness comes over you on entering; small passages, closed doors, and an amplitude of curtains—there are curtains at every door in the church—induce a sensation of coziness; but when you get within, a sort of bewildering disappointment supervenes. The place seems cold and unfinished,—looks as if the plasterers and painters had yet to be sent for. But it has been decided to do without them: the inside is complete. There may be some wisdom in this style of thing; but a well-lined inside, whether it appertains to men or churches, is a matter worthy of consideration. There is an uncomely, fantastical plainness about the interior walls of St. Mark's, a want of tone and elegance all over them, which may be very interesting to some, but which the bulk of people will not be able to appreciate. If they were whitewashed, in even the commonest style, they would look better than at present. Bands of cream- coloured brick run round the walls, and the window arches are bordered with similar material. The roof is amazingly stocked with wood, all dark stained: as you look up at it a sense of solemn maddlement creeps over you; and what such a profuse and complex display of timber can mean is a mystery, which only the gods and sharp architects will be able to solve. The roof is supported by ten long, thin, gilt-headed iron pillars, which relieve what would otherwise in the general aspect of the church amount to a heavy monotony of red brickwork and sombre timber. On each side of the body of the church there are four neat-looking three-light windows; at the western end there is a beautiful five-light window, but its effect is completely spoiled by a small, pert-looking, precocious organ, which stands right before it. At each end of the transept there are circular lights of condensed though pleasant proportions.

The chancel is spacious, lofty, and not too solemn looking. The base is ornamented with illumined tablets, and above there are three windows, the central one bearing small painted representations of the "Sower" and the "Good Shepherd," whilst those flanking it are plain. This chancel, owing to its good architectural disposition, might, by a little more decoration and the insertion of full stained glass windows, be made very beautiful. The Church is an extremely draughty one; and if it were not for a screen at the west end and a series of curtains at the different doors, stiff necks, sore throats, coughs, colds, and other inconveniences needing much ointment and many pills would be required by the congregation. Just within the screen there is a massive stone font, supported by polished granite pillars, and surrounded at the base by a carpet upon which repose four small cushions bearing respectively on their surface a mystic injunction about "thinking" and "thanking."

The Church will accommodate about 1,000. There are 500 free sittings in it, the bulk being in the transept, which is galleried, and is the best and quietest place in the building, and the remainder at the extreme western end. All the seats are small, open, and pretty convenient; but the backs are very low, and people can't fall asleep in them comfortably. The price of the chargeable sittings ranges from 8s. to 10s. each per year. The average congregation numbers nearly 600; is constituted of working people with a seasoning of middle-class individuals; is of a peaceable friendly disposition; does not look black and ill-natured when a stranger appears; is quite gracious in the matter of seat-finding, book-lending, and the like; and is well backed up in its kindness by a roseate-featured gentleman—Mr. Ormandy, one of the wardens—who sits in a free pew near the front door, and does his best to prevent visitors from either losing themselves, swooning, or becoming miserable. In this quarter there is also stationed another official, a beadle, or verger, or something of the sort, who is quite inclined to be obliging; but he seems to have an unsettled, wandering disposition, is always moving about the place as if he had got mercury in him, can't keep still for the life of him more than two minutes at a time, and disturbs the congregation by his evolutions. We dare say he tries to do his best, and thinks that mobility is the criterion of efficiency; but we don't care for his perpetual activity, and shouldn't like to sleep with him, for we are afraid he would be a dreadfully uneasy bed-fellow.

The organ gallery appears to be a pleasant resort for a few hours' gossip and smirking. The musical instrument in it is diminutive, rather elegant in appearance at a distance, and is played with medium skill; but somehow it occasionally sounds when it should not, sometimes gives a gentle squeak in the middle of a prayer, now and then is inclined to do a little business whilst the sermon is being preached; and a lady member of the congregation has put this question to us on the subject, "Would it sound if the organist kept his hands and feet off it, and attended to the service?" That is rather a direct interrogation from so fair a source, and lest we might give offence we will allow people to answer it for themselves in their own way, after which they may, if inclined, communicate with the vivacious beadle, and tell him to look after the organ as well as the doors, &c. The singers in the gallery are spirited, give their services, like the organist, "gratisly"—one of the wardens told us so—and, if not pre-eminently musical, make a very fair average ninth-rate effort in the direction of melody. They will mend, we have no doubt, eventually—may finally get into the "fastoso" style. In the meantime, we recommend careful reading, mingled with wise doses of sal-prunel and Locock's wafers. On the first Sunday in every month, sometimes in the morning and sometimes in the evening, the sacrament is partaken of at St. Mark's church; and, comparatively speaking, the number of participants is considerable. The business is not entirely left, as in some churches, to worn-out old men and sacredly-snuffy old women—to a miserable half-dozen of fogies, nearly as ignorant of the vital virtues of the sacrament as the Virginian old beldame who took it to cure the rheumatism. At St. Mark's the sacrament takers consist of all classes of people, of various ages, and, considering the district, they muster very creditably.

The first incumbent of St. Mark's was the Rev. J. W. Green, who had very poor health, and died on the 5th of October, 1865. Nineteen days afterwards the Rev. T. Johnson was appointed to the incumbency which he continues to retain. Mr. Johnson is apparently about 40 years of age. He was first ordained as curate of St. Peter's, Oldham; stayed there two years and five months; then was appointed curate of Pontefract Parish Church, a position he occupied for nearly two years; subsequently took sole charge of a church at Holcombe, near Bury; four months afterwards came to Preston as curate of the Parish Church; remained there a considerable time; then went to Carnforth, near Lancaster; stayed but a short period in that quarter; and was afterwards appointed incumbent of St. Marks in this town. Although not very aged himself be lives in a house which is between 700 and 800 years old, and which possesses associations running back to the Roman era. This is Tulketh Hall, an ancient, castellated, exposed building on an eminence in Ashton, and facing in a direct line, extending over a valley, the front door of St. Mark's Church. With a fair spy-glass Mr. Johnson may at any time keep an exact eye upon that door from his own front sitting room. Nobody can tell when the building, altered considerably in modern times and now called Tulketh Hall, was first erected. Some antiquaries say that a body of monks from the monastery of Savigny, in Normandy, originally built it in 1124; others state that the place was made before that time; but this is certain, that a number of monks from the monastery named occupied it early in the twelfth century, and that they afterwards left it and went to Furness Abbey. On the south-west of Tulketh Hall the remains of a fosse (ditch or moat) were, up to recent times, visible; some old ruins adjoining could also be seen; and it has been supposed by some persons that there was once a Roman stronghold or castle here. Tulketh Hall has been occupied by several ancient families, and was once the seat of the Heskeths, of Rossall, near Fleetwood. The Rev. T. Johnson has lived in it for perhaps a couple of years, and seems to suffer none from either its isolation or antiquity. He thrives very well, like the generality of parsons, and will be a long liver if careful. He has what a phrenological physiologist would call a vitally sanguine constitution—has a good deal of temper, excitability, and determination in his character. You may persuade him, but he will be awkward to drive. He has a somewhat tall, gentlemanly, elastic figure; looks as if he had worn stays at some time; is polished, well-dressed, and careful; respects scented soap; hates the smell of raw onions; is scrupulous in his toilet; is sharp, swellish, and good-mannered; rather likes platform speaking; is inclined to get into a narrow groove of thought politically and theologically, when crossed by opponents; is eloquent when earnest; talks rubbish like everybody else at times; has a strong clear voice; is a good preacher; is moderate in his action; has never, even in his fiercest moments, injured the pulpit; has a refined, rather affected, and at times doubtful pronunciation; gets upwards of 300 pounds a year from the Church; has been financially lucky in other ways; has a homely class of parishioners, who would like to see him at other times than on Sundays; is well respected on the whole, and may thank his stars that fate reserved him for a parson.

His curate—the Rev. C. F. Holt—seems to be only just out of pin feather, is rather afraid of hopping off the twig; and needs sundry lessons in clerical flying before he will make much headway. He is good-looking, but not eloquent; precise in his shaving, but short of fire and originality; smart in features, but bad in his reading; has a very neat moustache, but a rather mediocre mental grasp; wears neat neck-ties and very clean shirts, but often fills you with the east wind when preaching. He is, however, a very indefatigable visitor, works hard and cheerfully in the district, has, by his outside labours, augmented the congregation, and on this account deserves credit. He is neither eloquent in expression nor sky- scraping in thought: but he labours hard amongst outside sinners, and an ounce of that kind of service is often worth a ton of pulpit rhetoric and sermonising bespanglement. At the schools in Wellfield- road the average day attendance is 310; whilst on Sundays it reaches 470. The school is a good one; the master is strong, healthy, and active, and the mistress is careful, antique-looking, and efficient.


Some good people are much concerned for the erection of new places of worship in our large towns, labour hard for long periods in maturing plans for them, and nearly exhaust their energies in securing that which is held to be the only potent agent in their construction—money. But this is an ancient and roundabout process, and may, as it sometimes has done, terminate in failure. A stiff quarrel is about the surest and quickest thing we are acquainted with for multiplying places of worship, for Dissenters, at any rate; and probably it would be found to work with efficacy, if tried, amongst other bodies. Local experience shows that disputes in congregations invariably end in the erection of new chapels. Show us a body of hard, fiercely-quarrelsome religious people, and although neither a prophet nor the son of one we dare predict that a new place of worship will be the upshot of their contentions. We know of four or five chapels in Preston which here been raised on this plan, and those requiring more need only keep the scheme warm. It is not essential that persons anxious for new sacred edifices should expend their forces in pecuniary solicitations; let them set a few congregations by the ears and the job will be done at once. Deucalion of Thessaly was told by the oracle of Themis that if he wished to renew mankind he must throw his mother's bones behind his back. This was about as irreverent and illogical as telling people that if they want more religious accomodation they must commence fighting; and yet, whilst olden history gives some faint proof that the Grecian prince was successful, in stone if not in bone throwing, modern experience ratifies the notion that a smart quarrel is certain to be followed by a good chapel.

There was a small feud in 1849-50 at Vauxhall-road Particular Baptist Chapel, Preston, concerning a preacher; several liked him; some didn't; a brisk contention followed; and, in the end, the dissatisfied ones—about 50 in number, including 29 members—finding that they had "got up a tree," quietly retired. They hired a place in Cannon-street, which somehow has been the nursery of two or three stirring young bodies given to spiritual peculiarity. Here they worshipped earnestly, looking out in the meantime for a plot of land in some part of the town whereon they could build a chapel, and thus attend to their own business on their own premises. Singular to say they hit upon a site adjoining the most fashionable quarter of the town—hit upon and bought the only piece of land in the Belgravia of Preston whereon they or anybody else could build a place of worship. This was a little spot on the north-eastern side of Regent-street, abutting upon Winckley-square, and freed from the restrictions as to church and chapel building which operated in respect to every other vacant piece of land in the same highly-spiced neighbourhood. Upon this land they raised a small chapel, and dedicated it to Zoar. Whether they did this because Zoar means little, or because it was fancied that they had "escaped," like Lot of old, from a very unsanctified place, we cannot tell. The chapel was opened in 1853, at a cost of 500 pounds, one-fifth of which, apart from previous subscriptions, was raised during the inaugural services.

As to the outward appearance of this chapel, not so much can be said. It is built of brick, with stone facings; at the front there is a gable pierced with a doorway, flanked with two long narrow windows, and surmounted by a small one; above, there is a stone tablet giving to the name of the chapel and the date of its opening; on the left, calmly nestling on the roof, there is a sheet iron pipe; and on the ground, at the same side, there are some good stables. These stables do not belong to the chapel, and never did. There is no bell at the chapel; but the name of Mr. Bell, who rents the stables, is fixed at one side of it; and in this circumstance some satisfaction may be found. The chapel has a microscopical, select, sincere appearance; has no architectural strength nor highly-finished beauty about it; is bashful, clean, unadorned; and looks like what it is—the cornered-up, decorous, tiny Bethel of a particular people. Its internal arrangements are equally sedate, condensed, and snug. A calm homeliness, a Quakerly simplicity runs all through it. Nothing glaring, shining, or artistically complex is visible; neither fresco panellings, nor chiaroscuro contrasts, nor statuary groups adorn its walls: if any of these things were seen the members would scream. All is simple, clean, modest. The walls, slightly relieved on each side by two imitation columns, are calmly coloured; the ceiling, containing a floriated centre piece, is plainly whitewashed; the gas stands have no pride in them; the pulpit is small, durable, unpretentious. There are 22 deep long narrow pews in the chapel, and they will accommodate 200 persons. A small and rather forlorn-looking clock perches over the doorway, and keeps time, when going, moderately well. In the south-western corner of the building there is a mural tablet, in memory of the late Mrs. Caroline Walsh, who gave 50 pounds towards the erection of the chapel. If she had given 100 pounds probably two monuments would have been raised to her memory.

Nearly all who visit the chapel are middle-class people. The average attendance ranges from 70 to 80. There are 34 members at the place. Half of those who originally joined it are dead. They did not die through attending the chapel, but through ordinary physical ailment. The congregation, numerically speaking, is stationary, at present. Those attending the chapel profess the very same principles as the Vauxhall-road Baptists, sing out of hymn books just like theirs, and drink in with equal rapture the Philpottian utterances of the Gospel Standard—the organ of the body. They have four collections a year, and the hat never goes round amongst them in vain. Their pulpit is specially reserved for men after their own heart. They will admit to it neither General Baptists, nor Methodists, nor Independents; and however good a thing any of the preachers of these bodies might have to say, they would have to burst before the Zoar Chapel brethren would find them rostrum accomodation for its expression. All classes, they fancy, ought to mind their own affairs; and preachers they consider should always keep to the pulpits of their own faith. Although touchy as to preachers they are somewhat liberal as to writers, and have a great fondness for several of the works of Church of England divines. They esteem considerably, we are informed, the writings of "Gill, Romaine, Hawker, Parkes, Hewlett, and others belonging that church." There is a debt of 150 pounds upon Zoar Chapel; and if any gentleman will give that sum to square up matters we can guarantee that good special sermons, eulogistic of all his virtues since birth, will be preached, and that a monument will be erected to him in the chapel when he dies.

The first minister the Zoar Chapel people had, after their secession, was Mr. D. Kent, a Liverpool gentleman who came over to Preston weekly, for seven years, and preached every Sunday. He got no salary, was content with having his railway fare paid and his Sunday meals provided, and he gave much satisfaction. In the end he had to retire through ill health. Mr. J. S. Wesson, who evaporated quietly from Preston some time ago, followed Mr. Kent, and preached for the Zoar folk six years. His successor was Mr. Edward Bates, of Darwen, who visited the chapel every Sunday for 12 months, and then withdrew. Since his departure there has been no regular minister at the Chapel; and whenever one does come he will have to be a "Mr." and not a "Rev." Particular Baptists don't believe in "reverend" gentlemen—think none of them are really reverend, and that it is presumption in any man, however sublimated his virtue or learning may be, to sacredly oil up his name with any such prefix.

We have visited Zoar Chapel twice. It was exactly twenty minutes to seven one Sunday evening when we first entered it. The lights were burning, the blinds were drawn, and there were 23 people in the place. In a pew on the left-hand side a little old man was holding forth as to the "prodigal son." It was the first time he had ever talked in the chapel, and he has never said a word since. He had a peculiarly free and easy style. Sometimes he leaned over the pew door, and beat time with one foot whilst talking; at other periods he would stand back a little, push his right arm up to the elbow in his breeches pocket, and scratch his leg quietly; then he would turn half round, and look up; then make to the pew door again; then leave it, and so on to the finish. He was an earnest, plain-spun sort of individual, but he got through his parabolical exposition very satisfactorily. We fancied he would afterwards ascend the pulpit, which was lighted up; but he kept out of it, and nobody ever went near it at all, except at the finish, when a man quietly walked up the steps and put the gas out. We could not exactly see the force of lighting the pulpit when nobody ever went into it; but others in the place might, for there are shrewd men amongst them, and they may have found out some virtue in lighting gas burners when they are not wanted. The music we heard was moderate; the praying which followed was mildly exhilarating.

When we turned into the chapel the second time—this was during a forenoon service—there were located in it an elderly, fatherly, farmerly man, who occupied the pulpit; eleven middle-aged men, with subdued countenances; six young men with their eyes and ears open to every move; nine blushing maidens with their back hair combed up stiffly and their mastoid processes bared all round; nine matured members of the fair sex with larger bonnets and more antique hair arrangements; five little girls; four small boys; and seven singers; making in the aggregate fifty-two. The person in the pulpit was, we learned, a Fylde farmer; but he must at some time have lived in the north, for he said "dowter" for daughter, "gert" for great, "nather" for neither, "natteral" for natural, and gave his "r's" capital good exercise, turning them round well, throughout his entire discourse; and he cared very little for either singular or plural verbs. If he got the sense out he deemed it sufficient. He spoke in a conversational style, was more descriptive than argumentative, was homely, discreet, and neither too lachrymose nor too buoyant. This preacher, we have been told, was Mr. James Fearclough, of Hardhorn, near Blackpool, who was the original organiser of the church.

The singers, who collected themselves around a square, conical- headed table, in a shy-looking corner, gave vent to their feelings without music books. They had hymns before them, and these they held to be sufficient. Their performances were rather of a timid character; but this might be to some extent accounted for by the fact that the conductor was absent. When they started a tune they sighed, blushed, held their heads down, and looked up shyly into their eye lids; but when they had proceeded a little and got the congregation into a sympathetic humour, courage came to them, and they moved on more exactly and courageously. About a dozen preachers have been tried since the pulpit was vacated by the Darwen gentleman; but the exact man has not yet been found, and until his advent the congregation will have to solicit "supplies," and be content with what they can get. None of the members can preach; nobody in the congregation can preach; and their only hope at present consists in the foreign import trade. The congregation has a homely, unpretentious, kindly-hearted, social appearance, and when in the midst of it you feel as if you were at home, and as if the tea things had only to be brought out to make matters complete. There are no loud talkers, no scandal-mongers, no sanguine souls who get into a state of incandescence during prayers or sermons here. A respectable, homely, smoothly-elegant serenity dominates in it.

Two services are held in the chapel on Sundays, and on a Wednesday evening there is a prayer meeting. A Sunday school, opened in 1855, is held in the building, and is attended by about 50 children. At present, the general business of the chapel is rather dull; and there will be no perceptible improvement in it nor in the number attending it until a regular minister is appointed. Listening to stray sermons is like feeding upon wind—you may get filled with it, but will never get fat upon it. We hope the Zoarists will by and by be successful; that, having escaped to their present quarters, they will keep them,—an effort has been once or twice made to purchase the building for a public-house; and that they will never, like the party who first fled to Zoar, become troglodytes.


With the district in which this Church is situated we are not much acquainted. With even the Church itself we have never been very familiar. It is in a queer, far-of unshaven region. Aged sparrows and men who like ale better than their mothers, dwell in its surroundings; phalanxes of young Britons, born without head coverings, and determined to keep them off; columns of wives, beautiful for ever in their unwashedness, and better interpreters of the 28th verse of the 1st chapter of Genesis then all the Biblical commentators put together, occupy its district. Prior to visiting St. Luke's Church we had some idea of its situation; but the idea was rather inclined to be hazy when we desired to utilise it; we couldn't bring it to a decisive point; and as we objected to the common business of stopping every other person in order to get a perplexing explanation of the situation, the question just resolved itself into one of "Find it out yourself." Exactly so, we mentally muttered on entering Ribbleton-lane; and we passed the thirty feet House of Correction wall to the right thereof, with an air of triumph, redolent of intrepidity and independence. To the left of the lane entered we knew St. Luke's was located; but doubt overshadowed its precise whereabouts. The first street in that direction down which we looked contained, at the bottom, six coal waggons and a gate. Those unhappy-looking waggons and that serious gate couldn't, we said, be St. Luke's. Another street to the left; but at the end of it we saw only a tavern, some tall rails, and an old engine shed. Convinced that St. Luke's was not here, we proceeded to the head of the third street, and down it were more rails, sundry children, a woman sweeping the parapet, and the gable of a mill. At the extreme end of the next a coal office and a gate met us. Number five street showed up the fading placards of a news shop, and the cold stillness of a Sunday morning factory. Down the sixth avenue we peered eagerly, but "more factory" met us. The termination of its successor consisted of pieces of timber, three arches, and some mill ends. We had hope as to the bottom of the next; but it was blighted and withered in its infancy as we gazed upon 25 tree trunks, a mill, and two tall chimneys. Additional wood, an office, and an entire mill formed the background of the street subsequently encountered. Extra mill buildings closed up the career of the road beyond it; ditto beyond that; partially ditto afterwards, the front of the picture being relieved by a few thirsty souls, looking plaintively at a landlord, who stood with a rolling eye upon door step, anxious to officiate as the "Good Samaritan," but afraid to exercise his benevolence. After this there would surely, we thought, be something like the church we were seeking. But not so; a swampy wide road and more of the irrepressible mill element constituted the whole of the scene presented.

It is, however, a long lane which has no turning, and at last we got to a small corner shop, below which were two clothes props, one being very much out of the perpendicular, an open piece of ground, numerous bricks in a heap, and a railed round edifice rising calmly, sedately, and diminutively. This was St. Luke's—the shrine we had been looking for, the Mecca we had been in search of. Plenty of breathing space has the church now: on three of its sides there is a wide expanse; but the cottage homes of England are steadily approaching it, and in time the building will be tightly surrounded by innumerable dwellings, whose occupants, we hope, will feel the spiritual salubrity of their situation. St. Luke's has a serene, minutely-neat exterior; is proportionate, evenly balanced, and devoid of that tortuous masonry which some architects delight to honour. It is a meekly-conceived, yet substantially-built little church, with a rural placidity and neatness about it, reminding one of goodness without showiness, and use without sugar-coated detail. A modest spire, very sharp-pointed, rises above the tower at the western side. At the angles of the tower there are pinnacles, supported not by monstrosities of the common gargoyle type, but by pleasant featured angels, duly pinioned for flying. There appears to have been a "rage" for windows at this said western end. From top to bottom there are fifteen; four being moderately large, and the bulk of the remainder remarkably small.

The interior of the church is particularly plain; is stone-coloured all round; has an unassuming, modestly-serious, half-rural appearance; has no tablets, no ornaments, and no striking colouring of any kind on its main walls. It consists of a nave (depending upon fourteen arches) and two aisles. The centre is pretty high, has a narrow, open roof, and is moderately crowded with timber. The sides are small, but in sitting in them you do not experience that buried- alive sensation, that bewilderment beneath a heavy ceiling elaborated with hugely awkward prop-work and pillars, which is felt in some church aisles. Here, as at St. Mark's, there is a strong belief in the healthiness of red curtains at the various entrances. The chancel is high and open, and has rather a bare look. Within it there are three windows, filled in with stained glass, of sweet design, but defective in representative effect. The colours are nicely arranged; but with the exception of a very small medallion in the centre, referring to the Last Supper, they give you no idea of anything living, or dead, or yet to be made alive. The windows were put in by the late T. Miller, Esq;, C. R. Fletcher Lutwidge, Esq.; and J. Bairstow, Esq., and they Cost 90 pounds. At the western end there are three stained-glass windows, which look well. The colours are rich, and the designs artistic. Two of them, we believe, were fixed in memory of the late Mrs. Winlaw. The vestry stands on one side of the chancel, and in the doorway of it there is a red curtain, intended to keep out the tail end of whirlwinds and draughts in general. When we looked into this vestry, the idea flashed upon us that its occupant must be a specially studious and virtuous gentleman, for upon the mantelpiece there were 14 large Bibles, surmounted by three sacramental guides. But earth is very nigh to heaven, and when we saw a series of begging boxes flanking the books, and a looking-glass, which must at some time have cost tenpence, we retreated.

From the centre of the chancel, the church looks very imposing: indeed, you get a full view of all its architectural details here, and the conclusion previously arrived at, through what you may have seen from other points—namely, that the edifice is simple, bucolic, and prosaic—is entirely changed. The reading desk is a commendable article, and with care will last a considerable period. The pulpit— circular-shaped, and somewhat small in proportions—has a seemly appearance; but it looks only a homely-built affair when minutely inspected, and might be pulled in pieces quickly by a passionate man. Two or three curious articles are associated with it. At the base, there is quietly lying an aged gutta percha pipe, the object of which we could not make out; and in the pulpit there is another gutta percha pipe, with an elongated, funnel-shaped top, put up, probably, for some very useful purpose—for whispering, or speaking, or sneezing, or coughing—which alone concerns the preacher, and need not be further inquired into by us. There is a thermometer opposite the pulpit, which, probably, is intended to test the atmosphere of the church, but which may, for aught we know, be serviceable to the minister in moments of extreme mental coldness, or in periods of high clerical enthusiasm. If he can regulate the sacred temperature of either the reading desk or the pulpit by this thermometer, and can, in addition, utilise the gutta percha tubes as exhaust pipes, then we think he will derive a tangible advantage from their presence. Near the entrance to the centre aisle there is a somewhat handsome stone font, octagonal in shape, carved on four of its sides, and resting upon a circular pedestal, which is surrounded by eight small pillars. Not far from and on each side of the font there is an official wand, carried at intervals, with a decorum akin to majesty, by the beadle.

St. Luke's Church was opened on the 3rd of August, 1859; the cost of it—land, building, and everything—being 5,350 pounds. The late J. Bairstow, Esq., was an admirable friend of St. Luke's; he gave 700 pounds towards the building fund, and 6,000 pounds for the endowment. The church will accommodate 800 persons. Three-fourths of the sittings are free. The average attendance on Sundays, including school children, is 250. Considering that there are about 5,500 persons in the district, this number is only trifling. When we visited the church there were 280 present, and out of this number 160 were children. We fancied that the weather, for it was rather unfavourable, might have kept many away, but when we recollected that we had passed groups of men standing idly at contiguous street corners, discussing the merits of dogs and ale, as we walked to the church; and saw at least 40 young fellows within a good stone throw of it as we left, hanging about drinking-house sides, in the drizzling rain, waiting for "opening time," and talking coolly about "half gallons," we grew doubtful as to the correctness of our supposition. If men could bear a quiet drenching in the streets, could leave their homes for the purpose of congregating on the sides of parapets, in order to make a descent upon places essentially "wet," we fancied that moderately inclement weather could not, after all, be set down as the real reason for a thin congregation at St. Lukes. The fact is, there is much of that religion professed by the horse of Shipag in this district—working on week days and stuffing on Sundays is the creed of the multitude.

The congregation worshipping at St. Luke's is formed chiefly of working people. In summer the scholars sit in a small gallery at the west end; in winter they are brought into 28 seats below it. They seem to be of a rather active turn of mind, for in their management they keep two or three men and a female hard at work, and continue after all to have a fair amount of their own way—not, perhaps, quite so much of it as three youths who sat before us, who appeared to extract more pleasure out of some verses on a tobacco paper than out of either the hymns or the sermon—but still enjoying a good share of personal freedom, which children will indulge in. There is a service at St. Luke's every Wednesday evening; but it is not much cared for. Only about 30 attend it, and it is not known to what extent they enjoy the Proceedings. The instrumental music of the church has apparently been regulated on the Darwinian theory of "selection." What it was at the very beginning we can-cannot say; but towards the commencement it appears to have been emitted from a small harmonium; then a little organ was procured, and it came from that; then a large organ was obtained, and from that it now radiates. Some day a still larger instrument may be procured; but the present one, which used to do duty in Christ Church, Preston, is a respectable, good-looking, tuneful apparatus; and it is played with ability by an energetic, clerical-looking young gentleman, who receives a small salary for his services. The members of the choir manifest tolerable skill in their performances; but they lack power, and are hampered at line ends by the dragging melody of the scholars.

The incumbent of St. Luke's is the Rev. W. Winlaw—a grave, sharp- featured gentleman, who comes from the north, and, like all his fellow-countrymen, knows perfectly well what time it is. Mr. Winlaw was originally an Independent minister, and he looks like one to this day. He was a fellow-student of the Rev. G. W. Clapham, formerly of Lancaster-road Congregational Chapel, Preston, and now a minister of the Church of England. Mr. Winlaw was the successor of the Rev. J. H. Cuff (father of Messrs. Cuff, of this town), at an Independent Chapel in Wellington. In 1855 he was ordained by the Bishop of Manchester to St. Peter's, Ashton-under-Lyne. In 1867 he came to Preston, as curate of St. Paul's, and in 1859 he was appointed incumbent of St. Luke's. Mr. Winlaw is a slender, carefully-organised, cute, sharp-eyed man; is inclined to be fastidious, punctillious, and cold; is a ready speaker; talks with grammatical accuracy and laboured precision; is rather wordy and unctuous; can draw out his sentences to a high pitch of solemnity, and tone them off in syllabic whispers; has an active physiognomical expression—can turn the muscles of his face in all directions; shakes his head considerably in the reading-desk and pulpit, as if constantly in earnest; is keenly susceptible, and has strong convictions; couldn't be easily persuaded off a notion after once seeing it in his own light; seems to have smiled but seldom; has sharp perceptive powers—looks into you with a piercing eye; cares little for the odd or the humorous—has a strong sense of clerical dignity; would become sarcastic if touched in the quick; is earnest, cautious, melancholy, and felt-hatted; has good strategic powers; can see a considerable way; is vigorous when roused, maidenly when cool, cutting when vexed, meek when in smooth water; is generally exact in composition, and clear in style; but preaches rather long sermons, and has a difficulty in giving over when he has got to the end. In one of his sermons we heard him say, after a five-and-twenty minutes run, "In conclusion," "Lastly," and "Finally;" and we had almost made up our mind for another sermon after he had "finished," but he decided to give over without preaching it. Mr. Winlaw, in the main, is a fair speaker, with a rather eccentric modulation, is a medium, gentlemanly-seeming, slightly-inflated, polished, precise minister, who has earned the confidence of his flock, and the goodwill of many about him. Like every other parson he is not quite perfect; but he appears to be suitable for the district, and with a salary of 300 pounds per annum is, we hope, happy. Day and Sunday schools adjoin the Church. At the former, there is an average attendance of 180; at the latter of 400. A capital library is attached to the schools. Orange and other societies for the maintenance of Protestantism, and the support of "Our glorious Constitution," exist in connection with the church, and the members, who are rather of the high-pressure type, enjoy the proceedings of them muchly.


Preston has been developing itself for several years northwards. There was a period, and not very long since, either, when nearly the whole of the land in that direction was a mere waste—a chaos of little hills and large holes, relieved with clay cuttings, modified with loads of rubbish, and adorned with innumerable stones—a barren, starved-out sort of town common, where persecuted asses found an elysium amid thistles, where neglected ducks held high revel in small worn-out patches of water, and upon which rambling operatives aired their terriers, smoked in gossiping coteries, and indulged in the luxuries of jumping, and running and tumbling; but much of this land has been "reclaimed;" many dwellings have been erected upon it; and in the heart of it stands Emmanuel Church—a building which ought to have been opened some time since, which might have been opened 90 days ago if two or three lawyers had exerted themselves with moderate energy in the conveyancing business, and which it is expected will be consecrated and got ready for the spiritual edification of the neighbourhood in a few weeks. The locality assigned to Emmanuel Church used to form part of St. Peter's district; but that church having enough on its hands nearer home, it was decided to slice off a portion of its area, and start a new auxiliary "mission" northwards. Thomas Tomlinson, Esq., of London, gave land at the end of Brook-street sufficient for a new church and schools; subscriptions for the erection of the necessary buildings were afterwards solicited; sums of money were promised; but enough could not be obtained to carry out the entire work, so the building committee, acting upon the sagacious plan that it is easier at any time to lift a pound than a ton, concluded to make a start by constructing schools. This was in 1865. After the lapse of a short time the schools were completed, and up to the present (Dec. 1869) worship has been held in them.

The schools are strong and good; the principal room wherein the religious services are held has a tincture of the ecclesiastical element in its interior architecture; but either those who attend it or those who exercise themselves about its precincts are of too active a disposition, for nineteen squares of glass in its windows are cracked, and this rather "panes" one at first sight. There were about 240 persons, 80 or 90 being children, in the building when we paid our Sunday visit to it.

The congregation was of the working class species. At the north-east corner seven or eight singers, somewhat vigorous and expert in their music, were stationed; a female who played a little harmonium was near them; and in one corner, in a small pulpit run up to the wall as tightly as human skill could devise, was a condensed Irish gentleman, whom nobody seemed to know, but who turned out, in the end, to be an Oswaldtwistle minister, who had exchanged pulpits with the regular clergyman. He was a cute, well-educated little party; but awfully uneasy—was never still—moved his head, arms, and body about at the rate of 129 times a minute (we timed him with a good centre-seconds watch), talked much out of the left corner of his mouth; was full of rough vigour and warm blood; would have been a "boy" with a shillelagh; and yet he got along with his work excellently. We couldn't help smiling when we saw, during the preliminary portion of the service, another surpliced gentleman join him. Just when the lessons came on a stout, plump-featured, and most fashionably-whiskered young man stepped into the pulpit, crushed the little Oswaldtwistle party into the north-eastern Corner of it, and poured out for about twenty minutes a sharp, monotonous volume of sacred verses. The scene underwent further development when, during the singing, both stood up side by side. The pulpit, would hardly hold them; but they stuck well to its inner sides, cast tranquil fraternal glances at each other, once threw a Corsican brother affection into the scene, looked now and then fierce, as if feeling that each had as much right to the pulpit as the other, and finally marched off with a twinly love beaming in their eyes, to the vestry adjoining, from which in a few minutes the Oswaldtwistle minister emerged in a black gown, and entered the pulpit, whilst his companion followed, in a buttoned-up black coat, to the front of the communion rails, where he took a seat and became very quiet. The sermon was briskly condemnatory of unbelief, for ten minutes, then got immensely pungent as to Popery, and ended in a coloured star- shower concerning the excellence of "the good old Church of England." We couldn't help admiring the preacher's eloquence; and a man who sat near us, and at the finish said, "Who is that fellow?"— a rather vulgar kind of query—seemed to be fairly delighted with him.

The Church, in which the services will soon be held, stands close to the school. It is a curious piebald-looking building; is made of brick with intervening stone bands and facings; and is something unique in this part of the country. In the south of England— particularly in the metropolitan districts—such like buildings are not uncommon; but hereabouts architecture of the Emmanuel Church type seems odd. The edifice, although quaint, and rather poor- looking at first sight, owing to its bricky complexion, will bear close examination; indeed, the more you look at it and the better you become reconciled to its proportions. In general contour it is symmetrical and strong; in detail it is neat and compact; and, whilst the colour of it may indicate some singularity, and strike you as being eccentrically variegated, there is nothing in any sense improper about the character of its materials, and as time goes on, and familiarity with them is increased, they will cease to look whimsical and appear just as good as anything else. The general architecture of the building is of the early English type; the design, &c., being furnished by Messrs. Myres, Veevers, and Myres, of Preston. At the west end there is a rather prettily shaped tower, surmounted at each corner with a strong stone pinnacle; the extreme height being 100 feet. A few yards above the centre of the tower there are angular projections—stretched-out, dreadful-looking figures, a cross between vampires and hyenas—and you feel glad that they are only made of stone, and in the next place that they are a good way off. The man who carved them must have tightened up his courage to the sticking point many a time during the completion of these uniquely-unbeautiful figures. The principal entrance to the church is at the western end, where there is a pretty gabled and balconied porchway, elaborated with carvings, some of which are being executed at the expense of patriotic youths, who pay for a yard or two each, as they are in the humour, and expect an apotheosis afterwards. The doors at this end open into an inner vestibule, which is well screened from the main building, and may be used for class purposes, the rendezvousing of christening parties, or the halting plate of sinners, who go late to church, and hesitate until they get desperate or highly virtuous before proceeding further. In a corner at the north-west there is a beautiful baptismal font, made of Caen stone, ornamented with emblematic figures and monograms, and supported by four small columns of Leeds stone. The font is covered up by a piece of strong calico, in the shape of a huge night-cap, and the arrangement suits it, for however closely covered down the cap may be, no grumbling of any sort is ever heard. The building is cruciform in shape, and has a strong, yet tastefully-finished, galleried transept, approached by collateral doers, which also give ingress to the church on the ground floor. The entrances are so arranged that everything in the shape of that most objectionable of all things—a draught—is obviated. It is expected that sufficient wind will be brought to bear upon the question by the organ blower, without admitting additional currents through the doors.

The church has a solid, substantial, well-finished interior, and the only fault which can be found with it is, that it is rather low. If the roof could be lifted a yard or so higher, the general effect would be wonderfully improved; but it would be very difficult to do this now; and we suppose the altitude, which was regulated by the funds in hand during the process of building, will have to remain as at present. But the lowness of the roof may have some compensating advantages. If higher the church might have been colder, and its sounding properties, which are good, might have been interfered with. At present the space is condensed, and this tends to concentrate both warmth, and what acoustical gentlemen term, reverberation. The roof is strongly filled in with diagonally laid, dark-stained timber, is open and semi-circular, but looks rather heavy and gloomy. There are no huge ungainly pillars in the body of the building; an easy, capacious freedom prevails in it; seeing is not a difficult business; the first sensation which increases as you remain in the church, is calmly pleasurable and satisfactory. There is nothing flimsey, nor specious, nor whimsical in the place; evenness and harmony of proportion; simplicity and solidity of style, strength and straightforwardness of workmanship, strike you as its characteristics. The pulpit, which is made of stone, and approached by an internal staircase, adorned on one side with open pillars, is most durable, and handsome in style. Every part of the church can be seen from it; and several parsons might be accommodated in it and the balcony immediately adjoining. The reading desk is of carved oak, and, although rather small, has a tasteful and substantial appearance. T. Tomlinson, Esq., who gave the font, presented both the pulpit and the desk, and has likewise given the ceremonial books. The lectern—strong, ornamental, and weighty—is the gift of M. Myres, Esq. The chancel is tolerably lofty and cheerful-looking. Good windows are inserted in it; but the main one is inferior in design to those in the transept, and that at the western end. Passages of scripture are painted round the arches of the chancel and transept; the expense thereof having been defrayed by Mr. Park, decorator, and Mr. Veevers, of the firm of Myres, Veevers, and Myres. There is a neat dado round the church, which was made at the expense of Mr. J. J. Myres. The seats in the church are most conveniently arranged. They are well fit up, have good sloped backs, and are so constructed as to accommodate either large or small families in separate sections. Emmanuel Church, the foundation-stone of which was laid on the 18th of April, 1868, by Sir T. G. Fermor-Hesketh, M.P., has cost, in round figures, 6,000 pounds. It will accommodate 1,000 people, and all the seats, except 359, are free.

The church, considering its capacity and general finish, is thought to be one of the cheapest buildings for miles round. Some time, when the building fund has been replenished, a parsonage house will be erected at the eastern end of the church. The schools which adjoin are attended, during week days, by upwards of 220 scholars; and on Sundays the attendance, including the various classes, with their teachers, &c., will be about 450. There is a "Conservative Constitutional Association" in connection with Emmanuel Schools. The members meet in a building which was once a farmhouse, near the church; they have for ever of courage; can discuss the great concerns of the empire with ease and eloquence; are prepared at any time to administer remedies for all the grievances of the five divisions of the human race, as classified by Blumenbach; and would be willing to sit daily, from ten till four, on the highest peak of Olympus, and direct the affairs of the universe.

The minister of the church is the Rev. E. Sloane Murdoch; and we dare say if the Cuilmenn of Erin, or the Book of the Uachongbhail, or the Cin Droma Snechta, or the Saltair of Cashel could have been consulted, his ancestors would have been found named therein. Mr. Murdoch is a young man, hails from Derry, possesses a strong constitution, has small, sharp eyes, and a very round head; has remarkably smooth hair, brushed close to the bone, and well parted; and is of a determined, active disposition. Following the example of many other parsons, he likes a closely-buttoned coat and a walking stick. He is sharp, quick in resenting aggressions, would soon have his native blood stirred, is tempted to be a little imperious, considers that he is a power in the district, has much endurance, is systematical in thought, wary in expression, hesitates and flutters a little in some of his sentences, has a strong Hibernian brogue, but is precise with it; throws more recollection than original thought into his utterances, visits his district well, is a fair scholar, is dry and prosaic until warmed up, can feel more than he can express, has little rhetorical display, seems as if he would like to shake himself when at a white heat, gets 195 pounds a year— 135 pounds from Emmanuel Church, and 60 pounds for his services at the workhouse—and would not find any fault whatever if the sum were raised to 300 pounds. Mr. Murdoch was originally ordained curate of a parish in the diocese of Kilmore, the father-in-law of the present incumbent of St. Peter's, Preston, being bishop thereof at the time; he stayed in the parish about a year; then went into the diocese of Derry, taking a curacy near Coleraine, which he held for three years; got a degree at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1858; was then ordained by the late Bishop of Killaloe; came to St. Peter's, Preston, as curate, in the spring of 1863; stayed there upwards of three years; and was then agreeably translated to Emmanuel Church. Mr. Murdoch is a very useful minister in the district, has striven much to illumine the sinners thereof, is bringing them now to a very fair state of enlightenment, and may in time get the whole district into a bright state of sacred combustion.

At the bottom of Fishergate Hill, in Bird-street, there is a small, clean-looking, pleasantly-formed building which, since the 14th of October 1869, has been used as a chapel of ease for Christ church. It cost 1000 pounds, was built conjointly by Mr. R. Newsham, Mr. J. F. Higgins, and Mr. W. B. Roper in memory of the late J. Bairstow, Esq., who left each of them several thousands; will accommodate about 240 persons; is tolerably well attended; and is one of the tidiest little places of worship we have seen. No effort at architectural display has been made in its construction. It has a brick exterior, has a comely little porch at the west end, is surmounted in the centre by a turret, has several yards of iron railing bending in various directions near the front, and will require considerable protection, if its general health has to be preserved. None of the windows have yet been broken, but we dare say they will be by and by, for the neighbourhood possesses some excellent stone-throwers; the Ribble has not yet flowed into it, but it may pay one of its peculiar visits some day, for in this quarter it is no respecter of buildings, whether they be chapels or public houses. The edifice has a light, simple, unassuming interior. Chairs seem to constitute the principal articles of furniture. There are 232 for the congregation, and 232 little red buffets as well, 11 for the choir, one for the organ blower, and two for the parson. At the top of each chair back there is a thick piece of wood on which is plastered a printed paper, requesting the worshippers to kneel during prayers, and to join in the responses. The paper also makes a quiet allusion to offertory business, the defraying of expenses, and the augmentation of the curate's salary. The chairs are planted down the church in two rows, and they look very singular. The organ at the south east corner is a pretty little instrument. A reading desk on the opposite side, standing upon a small platform, suffices for the pulpit. Behind there is a strip of strong blue-painted canvas bearing a text in gilt letters referring to the Sacrament. Above there is a three-light stained glass window. At the western end, just under the doorway, a marble tablet is fixed; and upon it is an allusion to the virtues of the late J. Bairstow, Esq., and to the gentlemen who erected the building. The average congregation consists of about 200 middle and working class people. The services are generally conducted by the Rev. J. D. Harrison, curate of Christ Church—a young gentleman who works with considerable vigour, and never sneezes at the offertory contributions, however small they may be. Mr. Harding, of this town, designed the building, which is a homely, kindly-looking little affair—a bashful, tiny, domesticated creature, a nursling amid the matured and ancient, a baby among the Titans, which may some day reach whiskerdom and manhood.


"And now, finally, brethren." To the "beginning of the end" have we got. The journey has been long and tortuous. When we have proceeded forty inches further we shall stop. Not with the "last rose of summer," nor with the "last of all the Romans," nor with the "last syllable of recorded time," nor with the "last words of Marmion"— the Mohicans are barred out—have we to deal, but with the last place of worship, fairly coming within the category of "Our Churches and Chapels." St. Mary's Church is situated in a huge, rudely-spun district, known by the name of "New Preston." That district used to be one of the wildest in this locality; "schimelendamowitchwagon" was not known in it; not much of that excellent article is yet known in it; and tons of good seed, saying nothing of manure, will have to be planted in its hard ground before it either blossoms like the rose or pays its debts. This district was originally brought into active existence by John Horrocks, Esq., the founder of the Preston cotton trade. Prior to his time there were a few people in it who believed that 10s. a week was a good wage, and that Nixon's Book of Prophecies was an infallible guide; but not before he planted in the locality a body of hand-loom weavers did it show signs of commercial vivacity, and begin to develope itself. Handloom weaving is now about as hopeless a job as trying to extract sunlight out of cucumbers; but at that time it was a paying air. Weavers could then afford to play two or three days a week, earn excellent wages, afterwards wear top boots, and then thrash their wives in comfort without the interference of policemen. They and their immediate descendants belonged to a crooked and perverse generation. Cock- fighting, badger-baiting, poaching, drinking, and dog-worrying formed their sovereign delights; and they were so amazingly rude and dangerous, that even tax collectors durst not, at times, go amongst them for money. Men of this stamp would be much appreciated at present. The population has thickened, and civilisation has penetrated into the region since then; and yet the "animal" preponderates rather largely in it now. Rats, pigeons, dogs, and Saturday night eye openers—toned down with canary breeding, ale- supping, herb-gathering, and Sunday afternoon baking—still retain a mild hold upon the affections of the people, and many of the youthful race are beginning to imitate their elders admirably in all these little particulars. A pack of hounds was once kept for general enjoyment in "New Preston;" but that pack has "gone to the dogs"— hasn't been heard of for years.

During the past quarter of a century what missionary breakfast men call a "great work" has been done by way of evangelising the people in this quarter of the town; and very much of it has been achieved through St. Mary's Church and schools. For a very long period the schools in connection with St. Mary's have formed an excellent auxiliary of the church. Prior to the erection of the church, scholastic work was carried on in some cottages on the north side of what is now termed New Hall-lane. The scholars were then in the care of the Parish Church. When St. Paul's was erected they were handed over to it. Afterwards, when St. Mary's was raised, a building was provided for them in a street just opposite, which has undergone many alterations and enlargements since, owing to the great increase in the number of scholars. The principal room of the schools is the largest in Preston, with one exception—the assembly room of the Corn Exchange. A little cottage-house looking place, up New Hall- lane, constitutes a "branch" of the schools. The average week-day attendance is about 900; whilst on a Sunday the gathering of scholars is about 1,200. At the schools, on Sundays, there are male and female adult classes; and on week-days a number of earnest mothers meet therein for the purposes of instruction, consolation, and pious news-vending. At the schools—we shall get to the church and Mr. Alker by and by, so be patient, if possible—there is a "Church of England Institute," under whose auspices innocent games are indulged in, and periodicals, &c. read. A Conservative association, established to guard the constitutional interests of Fishwick Ward, also holds its gatherings in one of the rooms. The Rev. Robert Lamb, a very energetic man, and formerly incumbent of St. Mary's, gave the first great impetus to the schools, which are the largest of their kind in Preston. Mr. Lamb is now at St. Paul's, Bennett-street, Manchester, and, singular to say, he has worked up the schools of that church until they have become the greatest in the city. The late T. Miller, Esq., was a warm friend of St. Mary's schools, and, whenever any extensions were made at them, he always, on having the plans and estimates submitted to him, defrayed one- third of the expenses.

St. Mary's Church stands just at the rear of the Preston House of Correction. That is better than standing inside such a grim establishment—any site before the insite (oh) of a prison; and has for its south western support the store-house of the Third Royal Lancashire Militia. It forms one of the churches erected mainly through the exertions of the late Rev. R. Carus Wilson; and like its brethren is built in the Norman style of architecture, the designer being Mr. John Latham. The first stone of the edifice was laid in May, 1836; in 1838 the church was opened; and in 1853 it was enlarged by the erection of a transept at the northern end. The late John Smith, Esq., gave the site for it. The building is surrounded by a graveyard, which might be kept in better order than it is. The Rev. R. Lamb considerably impoverished himself in enclosing the ground; and the Rev. H. R. Smith, one of the incumbents, afterwards spent a sum of money in ornamenting it with shrubs, &c.; but nobody cares much for it now, and Nature is permitted to follow her own unfettered way in it. Formerly there was a road to the church from the west, through some land adjoining the House of Correction; and it was a great convenience to those living on that side of the town; but for some reason it was closed; and one of the most roundabout ways imaginable has been substituted for it. St. Mary's is one of those churches which can be felt rather than seen. Until you get quite to it you hardly know you are at it. Approaching it from the west the first glimmering of it you have is over one end of the House of Correction. At this point you catch what seems to be a cluster of crosses—the surmountings of the tower; visions of a ponderous cruet-stand, of five nine pins, and other cognate articles, then strike you; afterwards the body of the church broadens slowly into view, and having described three-fourths of a wide circle with your feet, and passed through a strong gateway, it is found you are at the building. St. Mary's has a strong, heavy, compact appearance. Its front is arched below and storied above; it has ivy creeping up its walls—trying probably to get to some of the five nondescript ornaments above the tower—and has a half baronial, half old hall look at first sight. Some years ago there was much ivy about the general building; but the "rare old plant" engendered dampness and had to be pulled down. At each side of the front there is a small pinnacle, and flanking the gables of the transept there are four somewhat similar elevations. They are mainly used by sparrows.

The church can be approached by a doorway at the eastern end of the transept; but the bulk of the worshippers pass through those at the southern or front end—three in number, and rather heavy and dim in appearance. The centre one leads into the body of the building, and we may as well take advantage of it. We are just within; above there is a serious looking groined roof, with a lamp suspended from the middle of it; before us there is a screen, filled in with clear glass, through which you can see the worshippers who seem thin and scattered. Formerly the back of a sharply drawn up, dangerous gallery, for scholars, over which careless children might have fallen with the greatest ease, occupied the place of this screen, and a series of hot water pipes—apparently intended for warming the doorway and the churchyard in front, for they could have been of no use to people inside the building—were fixed there. In 1866, when the church was renovated, they were carried about fifteen yards into the edifice, where they may be seen to this day. We sat close to eight of them, with a top coat on, one Sunday evening, as a compensation for being nearly starved to death in one of the back side wings in the morning, and felt charmingly cooked at the end of the service. On the left side of the central entrance, and near the glass door and the screen, there is an elaborately carved box of Gothic design, intended for missionary contributions; but it is fixed in such a dim corner that nobody can see it. We have recommended the beadle to place this box in a more prominent position, for it is worth looking at as an ornament, even if nothing is put into it. The aperture in the lid might be closed, and the box could then be hung up beside the doorway lamp, so that its proportions might be fairly realised. The interior of the church is broad and lofty, but through its Norman configuration it is stiff and coldly ponderous in effect. Massive bare walls, high narrow windows, and a semi-sexagonal ceiling dependent upon rather ungainly beams and rafters, like a series of hanging frames, chill you a little; but on looking northward, to the end of the building, the chancel and transept arches, which are strong and elegantly moulded, relieve you, and as you advance the place seems to gradually assume a finer and more imposing aspect.

The chancel has a calm, goodly look; is, in fact, the best part of the building, architecturally speaking. At the base, there is an archway of tablets, upon which nobody ever bestows very close attention; above, there are three staple-shaped windows; and surmounting all, there is a round recessed light, which can only be seen through by people who sit in the gallery. On the left side of the chancel, there are two windows. There is no stained glass in the chancel. If the windows were adorned with it, and the walls more cheerfully painted, a very beautiful effect would be produced. Five different kinds of carpetting, all very well worn, deck the floor of the chancel. Within the communion rails, there is a rich carpet, in needlework, made by some of the members of the congregation, At each side there is as antique chair, being part of the furniture in the vestry which adjoins, and which was given by the Rev. H. R. Smith. It consists altogether of ten pieces—including chairs, bookcase, looking-glass, dressing-table, chest, &c., and is about 200 years old. The only stained windows in the building are in the west transept. They are four in number; two being of the merely ornamental type, whilst the remainder are of the memorial order. At the bottom of one of them there are these words—"In memory of Mary Smith, born 1779, died 1845. Erected by Henry Robert Smith." At the base of the other window there is this inscription:- "In memory of John Smith, born 1773, died 1849. Erected by the church, 1855." The deceased persons referred to were the parents of the Rev. H. R. Smith, who, as already said, was a former incumbent of the church. The ends of the transept are very dim, and sometimes you can hardy tell who is sitting in them.

St. Mary's will accommodate 1,450 persons. The pews on the ground floor, excepting a few free ones at the entrance and at the top of the church, are all of the "closed" kind—have doors to them. When the Church was renovated the pews were cut down about eight inches, were remodelled, and thoroughly cleaned. Previously they were painted, and had a gummy, sticky influence rearwards upon peoples clothes. One or two bits of shawl fringe, &c., drawn off by the old gluey paint still remain at the back of some of the seats (notwithstanding the chemical cleansing they got), reminding one of the saying of friend Billings, that "A thing well stuck iz stuck for ever." The gas burners hang far down in pendant clusters from the ceiling, and with their glass reflectors, which would cast off a better light if cleaner, have a lamp-like effect, putting one in mind, when lighted, of some Eastern mosque. The font is a prettily shaped article, is made of fossil marble, and was given by the Rev. Canon Parr and the wardens of the Parish Church, in which building it once stood. It rests upon a platform of ornamental tiles bordered with stone, and looks well. Above it is a carved wooden canopy surmounted by a dove. The canopy is raised by a descending ball of equal weight. When the ball falls the pigeon rises. In ordinary life the ball rises when the pigeon falls; but this is not the case at St. Mary's, although it amounts to the same thing in the end, for after the pigeon has ascended three feet the ball descends upon its back and settles the question.

At the southern end there is a large gallery, overshadowing the noisiest galaxy of Sunday infants we ever encountered. There are more infants at St. Mary's schools than at any other place in Preston, and trouble, combined with vexation of spirit, must consequently exist there in the same ratio. The bulk are kept from the church; but a few manage to creep in, and when we saw them they were having a very happy time of it. Some whistled a little—but they seemed to be only learners and couldn't get on very well with tunes; others tossed halfpennies about, a few operated upon the floor with marbles, and all of them were exceedingly lively. The gallery above is large, deep, and long; ingress to it is tortuous; and strangers would have to inquire much before properly reaching it. There is an old funeral bier in one part of it, and we have failed to ascertain the precise object of the article. It is not used when fainting fits are in season; it is never taken advantage of in the case of people who fall asleep, and require carrying home to bed; it seems to be neither useful nor ornamental; and it ought to be either taken off to the cemetery and quietly inurned, or sold to one of the sextons there.

In the gallery there is a large organ. It is a very respectable- looking instrument, has a healthy musical interior, and is played moderately. The members of the choir, to whom several people in the bottom of the church look up periodically, as if trying to find out either what they were doing or how they were dressed, are only in embryo. They are new singers; but some of them have fair voices, and in spite of occasional irregularity in tune and time, they get along agreeably. The elements of a good choir are within them, and they have only to persevere, in order to secure excellence, saying nothing of medals, and other tokens of appreciation. The whole of the seats in the gallery, generally used by scholars, are free.

St. Mary's is situated a district containing about 8,000 persons, and as they are nearly entirely of the working class sort, the congregation is naturally made up of similar materials. Including 14 militia staff men, the congregation will number, on an average, without the scholars, about 500. More people appear to come late to this church than to any other in Preston; they keep dropping in at all times—particularly in a morning—up to within twenty minutes of the finish; but they are connected with the schools, visit the church after they have done duty there, and this accounts for their lateness. The beadle of this church has the strongest, if not the longest, official wand in the town, and he is very modest, blushing occasionally, while carrying it.

The first incumbent of St. Mary's was the Rev. James Parker, a relative of Councillor Parker, of Preston, who had to retire through ill health. He exchanged livings with the Rev. W. Watson, of Ellerburne, in Yorkshire, who required a more active sphere, and found it at St. Mary's. Mr. Watson afterwards found higher preferment, and went to the South of England. Then came the Rev. Robert Lamb, who worked most vigorously in the district. He is now rector of St. Paul's, Manchester. His successor was the Rev. Henry Robert Smith, who, after staying a while, retired to St. Paul's, at Grange, where he still labours. The next incumbent was the Rev. George Alker, who came to St. Mary's in December, 1857. He is still at the church; but we dare say he would be willing to leave it for a rectory, if one were offered, with 500 pounds a year. Mr. Alker is an Irishman, and is about 42 years of age. He is rather tall; is genteelly fashioned, has good features, wears an elegantly-trimmed pair of whiskers, has pompous, odorous, Pall Mall appearance, is grandiose and special, looks like a nineteenth century Numa Pompilius, would have made a spicey Pontifex Maximus, ought to have lived in Persia, where he might have worn velvet slippers and been fanned with peacock feathers, would have been a rare general director of either fire-eaters or fire worshippers; is inclined to run when he walks alone, and to be stately, slow, regal, and precise when, like Fadladeen, he is in charge of Lalla Rookh. Is a man of determination, and never sleeps with his clothes on. Is a sharp debater, a briskly-pompous, eloquent talker, has had a good deal of trouble at time and time in putting on his kid gloves, which used to fit so mortally tight that he couldn't stir his thumbs in them; stands with a fine commanding air in the pulpit, as if about to shoulder arms; preaches extempore; says "my brethren" more frequently in his sermons than any minister we ever heard; has a clear, keen intellect; is dexterous, courageous, impassioned, imperious; has a lofty, threepence-halfpenny majesty about him; has been a hard worker, a stiff fighter, and a stinging public lecturer. After leaving Ireland, he took a curacy in Liverpool. In 1857 he accepted a similar post at St. Peter's, Preston. Here he organised a class of young men, 800 strong, and whilst here he set the town on fire with anti-Popery denunciation; and of him it might, at that time, have been said—

He comes from Erin's peaceful shore Like fervid kettle bubbling o'er With hot effusions—hot and weak; Sound Humbug all your hollowest drums, He comes of Erin's martyrdoms To Britain's well-fed Church to speak.

Yes, he was a regular Mr. Blazeaway, and what he said was equal to the strongest of the theatre thunder and the most dazzling of forked lightning. Other Irish curates have tried the same game on since then in the town, but they have not been so successful; none of them have yet got into decent incumbencies, and we are afraid they will have to rave on for a yet longer period ere the requisite balm of Gilead is found. After piling up the agony for a few months at St. Peter's, Mr. Alker left for Dublin, stayed there a short time, then retraced his steps to Preston, and in due time got the incumbency of St. Mary's—an event which seems to have toned down all his fury about the "abomination of Rome," and made him nearly quite forget the existence of Pope Pius. Paraphrasing one of his own country's poets, we may say,—

As bees on flowers alighting cease their hum, So settling at St. Mary's Alker's dumb.

Still be has occasional spells of anti-Popery hysteria; he can't altogether get the old complaint out of his bones; Rome is yet his red rag when in a rage; and he has latterly shown an inclination to wind up the clocks of the Jews and the Mahommedans. He may have a fling at the Calmuck Tartars and a quiet pitch into the Sioux Indians after a bit. When Mr. Alker first went to St. Mary's his salary was small; but it has now reached the general panacea of incumbents—300 pounds a year. He has also a neat, well-situated parsonage, on the south eastern side of the town, a good garden, which has been the scene of many lovely sights, and a neat patch of ground beyond. In his district Mr. Alker has been an energetic worker, and in connection with the schools particularly he has been most useful. For his services in this respect he deserves much praise, and we tender him our share. His influence is hardly so great as it used to be, still he is the great Brahmin and the grand Lama of the locality. There have been five curates at St. Mary's— the Rev. W. Nesbit M'Guinness, clever and ambitious; the Rev. John Wilson (not of St. James's), an industrious gentleman, who had a row with the congregation in respect to his marriage, and afterwards went away; the Rev. R. Close, a pretentious young man, who appeared to use much hair oil and think well of pious gammon; the Rev. E. M. David, a Welshman, who couldn't speak plainly enough for the congregation, and had to retire; and, lastly, the Rev. Bernard Robinson, who has been at St. Mary's about twelve months, and is evidently working satisfactorily in the district. We have finished: all is over; the lime lights are burning, the coloured fires are radiating their hues, the curtain is falling, and bidding "Adieu" to all our kind readers, we vanish.


Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7
Home - Random Browse